Church Software Suggestions?

A reader emailed me and asked for suggestions for a church website — where do you go for good web design if you have a very limited budget (church of 25 members)? What needs to be on the site?

Where to find good software?

I have no idea — especially if you’re on a budget and don’t have a member who is great at HTML coding. Please — any suggestions?

What to put on the site?

Ah … on this I have opinions!

For visitors — times of services and other events, map to church, phone numbers and email contacts (it’s astonishing how many websites omit the phone number!) 

For members — calendar of upcoming events, password protected page of prayer requests and member pictures and contact info.

I’m ambivalent on “statements of faith” or “what we believe.”

And I’m not too sure about mission statements that list Rick Warren’s “five purposes of the church.” I think half the churches in Tuscaloosa have that or the equivalent.

Better to very succinctly explain why you exist as a congregation — why you’ll be missed if you go out of business. I mean, every website says, “We’re friendly. Come visit!” Wouldn’t “Come serve the Tuscaloosa community with us” be better? It’d at least be different!

Anyway, I’m hoping for suggestions from the readers. This is my fifth post to write tonight and I’m really tired of typing. You all will have to finish this one.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink.
My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.

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7 Responses to Church Software Suggestions?

  1. Tim Archer says:

    I'd highly recommend using WordPress software. Tell them to go to the Church Communications Pro website and browse the WordPress category:
    http://www.churchcommunicationspro.com/category/w

    Grace and peace,
    Tim

  2. Tim Archer says:

    Hope this doesn't show up twice; I posted it a while ago, and it hasn't shown up.

    I'd suggest they browse the WordPress section at Chuch Communications Pro. WordPress software makes an easy web-building tool for churches. Start here:
    http://www.churchcommunicationspro.com/category/w

    Grace and peace,
    Tim

  3. Chris Guin says:

    As far as software goes, it really depends on the level of computer expertise you have at your disposal. Someone with design and HTML skills can put a website together without any major software packages at all – the cost is only finding a place to host it.

    If you don't have the expertise, you might consider looking into Microsoft FrontPage or equivalents (you're really looking for a WYSIWYG editor – what you see is what you get) – such software used to be pretty awful but it's improved considerably over the years (granted I haven't looked at it in about 5 years or so, so I can't say for sure).

    Some hosting services will provide templates so you only have to fill in information, and don't even have to design the site or upload anything. My home congregation in Alabama did this for a while, but they quickly discovered that such deals are very limited in what they can offer (you can't do much beyond the template they provide) – so member directories and email-generating forms were out of the question.

    For our house church's website (quincyforchrist.com), we just piggybacked it as an extra domain on my personal website for a small extra charge, and tried to do as much of the design and coding ourselves as we could.

    Good luck.

  4. Alan says:

    I can't offer much help on the software side. My guess is that if you can't manage with what your web site host offers, then you need to get outside help. Maybe someone at a larger church can help.

    As for content… I think you need to define clearly what you are trying to accomplish with your web site. Is its purpose to communicate with the members? With members of sister congregations who visit from time to time? With people who randomly happen to visit the site? With people searching for answers to struggles in their lives? Or maybe you just want to create an impression online ("Wow, what a cool web site they have!")

    It's challenging to do a good job at meeting one of those objectives. Meeting two well would be even harder. Meeting all those objectives well on a single site might be impossible. Try to be everything for everyone, and your visitors might end up looking for a needle in a haystack.

    Our website is not very sophisticated. We use it primarily for communicating with our members — with audio of classes and sermons, announcements and prayer requests, and calendar of events.

  5. Just Google "church web sites" and you'll find lots of options

  6. Jay Guin says:

    Better yet, Google "free church web sites." Lots of hits.

  7. Dave R. says:

    One of the very good things about most good Church of Christ web sites is the inculsion of a listing of the Elders, frequently with contact information. As someone from an Independent Christian Church background, I am disturbed by our elevation of the Minister( often called pastor) . I fear that many, if not most, of the pew fillers have no idea who the Elders are or what their office entails.

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